This is your WEF home for all things SIPG. This week, Jeff Beresford-Howe takes a look at SIPG’s 4-0 humiliation of Shenhua in the CSL season opener.
The Shanghai derby is dead.
At least it is for the time being. SIPG – playing without Hulk, “injured,” but more likely resting up for the next week’s ACL match – beat Shenhua 4-0 at Hongkou on the opening night of the CSL season. The victory gives SIPG five wins in a row against Shenhua in the CSL by an aggregate score of 17-2.
Those scorelines speaks for themselves, but just in case you thought there were maybe a couple of goals on Friday against the run of play and it wasn’t all that bad: nope. Shenhua came up with only a couple of half-decent scoring chances in 90 minutes, an anemic Moreno header saved by Yan Junling and a Fredy Guarin goal-line shove on Shi Ke that turned into a good chance ruined by a bad pass.
The rest of the time, SIPG toyed with their crosstown rivals, although it took SIPG until added time in the first half to score, via a Cai Huikang header that deflected off Fredy Guarin. (The officials rather ungenerously ruled it an own goal.)
In the second half the floodgates opened, led by two very near misses by Elkeson. One was saved by a diving Shenhua keeper Li Shuai and the other bounced off the post. Both of them wound up on the foot of an SIPG attacker with a wide open net in front of him. Lyu Wenjun and Oscar did not waste their opportunities. Later, as time wound down on a discouraged, ten-man Shenhua side, a gorgeous Li Shenglong through ball found Akhmedov wandering in alone on Li. Akhmedov casually tapped the ball over a prematurely prone Li.
Lacking talent, Shenhua goes with cheap shots
Despite the drubbing, it would be wrong to say that Shenhua didn’t have a plan. Unfortunately, and to Shenhua’s discredit, that plan was to beat the shit out of Oscar. Over and over again, Shenhua players attacked Oscar with cheap fouls, culminating finally with a 73rd minute mugging. Sun Shilin drew his arm back and threw a brutal elbow to Oscar’s face, and then, as Oscar went down, Bai Jiajun punched him.
Serbian referee Milorad Mazic initially gave Sun a red card, but after utilizing VAR, Masic switched it to Bai, who has since been fined and demoted by Shenhua. It would have been gutsy, but entirely fair, for Mazic to slap both Sun and Bai with reds.
Surely, surely Bai and Sun and all the other guys who fouled Oscar were lone wolves. Who can blame Shenhua’s new manager, Quique Sanchez Flores?
Regardless of the tactical brutality on Shenhua’s part, in the end, Shenhua has made it abundantly clear that they just can’t compete with SIPG. Despite it being a nationally televised, opening night derby, the match had all the electricity of a Henan-TEDA match in the dog days of August, and in the second half – 45 minutes into the season! – Shenhua fans were already utterly deflated.
Why SIPG was quiet again in the transfer window
Meanwhile, goal.com interviewed recently departed SIPG tactical manager Mads Davidson, and he has an explanation for SIPG’s two-year run of avoiding roster changes:
“The view of China is it’s a buying league,” says Davidsen.
“I said to the president the buying stops because we have foreigners the right age who can help the team for some years and now the academy staff are producing players at the right level also.
“Our U23 team won the league, our U19 team won the league, our U15 team won the league. The big effect is we won the Chinese Super League, but the smaller effect is we start to have the best youth players in the coming generation. The club is healthy in the long run.”
Odds and Ends
At the end of an extended sprint to (successfully) avoid a Shenhua ball coming to Moreno over the top, SIPG central defender Shi Ke pulled up clutching his hamstring and had to leave the match. It’s not known if or how long he’ll be out.
Yu Hai is finally back; against Shenhua, the left back played his first full match since his injury on national team duty last Fall.
Fu Huan was once again in a midfield role; he didn’t look as impressive as he did against Guo’an in the Super Cup – a clumsy first touch in the 24th minute against Shenhua cost SIPG a likely goal – but he was good enough to make you think that maybe SIPG manager Vitor Pereira has pulled a rabbit out of his hat.
Chen Binbin, left off the Super Cup roster, was available in reserve Friday night, but didn’t appear. SIPG is not required to use an U23 player until March 30 at Hebei.
Wild East Football’s panel of experts – (cough) gamblers – have installed SIPG and Beijing Guo’an as co-favorites to win the CSL in 2019, with Evergrande, Shandong, Jiangsu, and Dalian and R&F following in that order.
The Red Eagles face Kawasaki Frontale in the first match of the ACL group stage at Shanghai Stadium on Wednesday. The Tokyo side is off to a slow start in the J League, with two draws in their first two matches.
Only three days after that, Jiangsu Suning comes to the Stadium for SIPG’s CSL home opener. Jiangsu began their CSL season last Sunday by beating hapless Tianjin Teda, 3-2 in Nanjing.
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